Book Review- Elizabeth Hunter’s “The Scarlet Deep”

Before I get deep (heh) into the sandwich metaphor-free review of Ms. Hunter’s latest Elemental World Novel, I need to do a little disclosure.

  1. I received an advanced copy of this book a couple of weeks ago for the express purpose of reviewing it on my blog (and elsewhere)
  2. Elizabeth drinks gin and is awesome and nice and funny and I am totally planning on colluding with my PSM to kidnap her so she can take up residence in the (fully stocked with Hendricks) writer’s dungeon drinking a martini with her someday and not giggling like an idiot.

I love the writing style of Elizabeth Hunter. I don’t remember why I picked up my first book of hers (The Scribe), but I know who influenced me (Cat). After devouring the first two Irin Chronicles, I wolfed down (heh) the first two Cambio Springs novels (mmm…Alex) and then plunged into the much larger (in terms of time commitment) Elemental World.

I am feeling fairly confident at this point that I’ve read everything Elizabeth’s published. I have enjoyed everything I’ve read. This is not insignificant. There are other favorite authors who have published things I just can’t quite get into.
I do have favorites, though. I’ll not rank them, but I will admit that anything that involves an appearance from a certain Hawaiian-shirted vampire is going to always come out on top.

Not that one, but I suddenly feel compelled to write some cross-over erotic fan fic.

Synopsis:
On the waves of the North Atlantic, a poison spreads, sapping the life from humans and striking madness into immortals.

Patrick Murphy, the immortal leader of Dublin, has been trying to stem the tide of Elixir washing into his territory, but nothing seems to stop the vampire drug. While others in the immortal world work to cure the creeping insanity that Elixir threatens, Murphy has been invited to London to join a summit of leaders hoping to discover who is shipping the drug. If Murphy and his allies can cut off the supply, they might be able to halt the spread long enough for a treatment to be found for the humans and vampires infected.

Anne O’Dea, Murphy’s former lover, retreated from public life over one hundred years ago to help immortals in need… and to heal her own broken heart. Though powerful connections keep her insulated from the violence of vampire politics, even Anne is starting to feel the effects of Elixir on her isolated world. The human blood supply has been tainted, and with Anne’s unique needs, even those closest to her might be in danger. Not just from infection, but Anne’s escalating bloodlust.

When Anne and Murphy are both called to London, they’re forced to confront a connection as immortal as they are. As they search for a traitor among allies, they must also come to terms with their past. Behind the safe facade of politics, old hungers still burn, even as an ancient power threatens the fate of the Elemental World.

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The Review

Anne & Murphy: I really liked them and the dynamic they had. It’s refreshing to read about immortals who are BOTH old instead of the old and wise vamp with the freshly turned human (which is fine, but I always wonder why no one can find anyone their own age).  I thought their chemistry was well developed and it was easy to believe they had a long, simmering history even though we missed the early days.

saucy!

“If I tell you that most of the rumors are likely true and that he was impressively adventurous for a man of his time, would you stop feeling guilty?”

 


Patrick: “I do miss the bite of your tongue, Dr. O’Dea. Miss a lot about your tongue, in fact.”

There’s something powerful that appeals to the romantic in me about an immortal connection that has survived harsh words and a century apart only to burn even hotter when the spark is re-ignited.

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Ms. Hunter’s world building is amazing and every time I read something of hers I have no doubt that this is how it really is. There are powerful vampires controlling the major cities of the world, manipulating them, each other, and us humans in an intricate dance that is equal parts protective and exploitative. I half expect to stumble across the leader of Portland when I’m lost after dark (and would like to inquire as to where I might stumble across him and if he’s a wee bit nicer than the erstwhile leaders of Rome and southern France).


Murphy and Anne were brilliantly written. I felt their pain at their long separation; a pain that flared tempers and made a reunion both harder (a long grudge is harder to give up) and more desirable (who doesn’t want the other half of their soul back?).

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“I tried to forget you, Anne. Not because I didn’t love you, but because I loved you so damn much. It didn’t matter. None of it mattered.”

But Ms. Hunter writes more than romance – she writes mystery and this was a well-crafted one. Even when the identification of the big bad (to use the parlance of my second favorite vampire hunter) seemed iron-clad, I was still unsure if I was being led down the garden path by a red herring (if I can’t have sandwich metaphors, I’m going to throw everything else into a blender to see what pops out). My hesitation to believe in the seeming inevitability of the bad-guy unmasking (“I would’ve gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids vampires!”) was partially due to the fear that Elizabeth was going to hurt my feels even more and partially due to my stubborn refusal to believe she really wanted to hurt my feels this much.

I’m not delving into spoiler territory, but I will tell you that I said angry words about the author in question. Also a tissue or two at the end might not go amiss if you’re the type to cry when fictional characters you like have bad things happen.

In Summary
GAH! BUY IT! Read it now! I mean, I received it as an ARC, but I totally just bought it too because why not?

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